Reema Khrais

Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.

A North Carolina native, Reema began her radio career with Carolina Connection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an anchor and reporter. She later interned at The Story, and traveled to Cairo, Egypt to produce stories from the 2011 revolution. Her work has also appeared on CNN, The Takeaway and On The Media.

Ways to Connect

Reema Khrais / WUNC

In North Carolina classrooms today, students are dealing with far fewer textbooks. Over the last seven years, state money for books has dropped drastically. Those changes come as more classrooms become more digital friendly – a transition that won’t be cheap, or easy.

Photo: An Interstate in North Carolina
Jimmy Emmerson / Flickr

North Carolina teenagers would no longer be required to take driver’s education under the Senate’s budget proposal.

That means they would no longer have to sit in class for 30 hours, or spend a few days behind the wheel with an instructor.

In its place, Republican senators want them to score at least 85 percent of the questions correctly on a written test (instead of the current 80 percent), and spend 85 hours driving with a parent or qualified adult (instead of 60) before getting a license.

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

The North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval on Wednesday afternoon to a two-year budget that would cut funding for thousands of public school teaching assistant positions, and would make significant policy changes to the state's tax code and Medicaid program.

The proposed $21.5 billion budget, which represents an almost 2 percent increase from the current year and was approved by Republicans along a party-line vote of 30-19, is scheduled for a final vote on Thursday.

Lawmakers voted this summer to eventually eliminate teacher tenure, replacing it with temporary contracts. The State Board of Education will discuss a model contract this week.
cybrarian77 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cybrarian77/6284181389

Teacher pay is one of the biggest political items in the state's spending plan North Carolina lawmakers are currently debating.

House and Senate Republicans have different ideas over raising teacher salaries, though both want to give an average 4 percent boost.

Under the Senate’s plan, most of that extra money would go toward teachers with less than 15 years of experience. Those with 25+ years of experience would not see any increases to their current base salary from the state.  

Classroom
WUNC File Photo

The state commission charged with reviewing and proposing changes to the Common Core standards heard from a handful of parents on Monday. Many of them already attend the group’s meetings regularly and strongly oppose the Math and English goals.

The group, which first met in September, has been working on collecting feedback from stakeholders through surveys and now public meetings.

“It’s so critical for us to be not only transparent, but inclusive,” said co-chair Andre Peek.

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

The N.C. House of Representatives voted Thursday to override Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of Senate Bill 2, though no real debate was allowed. 

The bill - which is now law - permits magistrates and county register of deeds employees to exempt themselves from offering same-sex marriage duties because of "sincerely held religious" objections. 

A headshot of Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier
Creative Commons / Wikimedia

Rep. Rick Glazier, a leading Democratic voice in the state House, announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down. The attorney from Fayetteville will become executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center, a left-leaning nonprofit.

Glazier, who served as a representative for 13 years, championed issues relating to social justice. He focused on education; he works as an adjunct professor at Campbell Law School and previously served on the Cumberland County school board.  

LA Johnson/NPR

North Carolina’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high at about 83 percent. State education leaders credit several reasons: early college high school, career counseling, credit recovery programs–just to list a few.

NPR Ed recently partnered with several member stations, including WUNC, to dig into why graduation rates have been climbing. The answer isn’t an easy one – many schools use thoughtful, long-term strategies, while others rely more heavily on alternate, and often easier, routes for struggling students.  

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

Testing season is wrapping up for many public school students in North Carolina. They’ve spent hours bubbling in answer sheets, proving to teachers what they’ve learned.

But end-of-year exams only represent a handful of the dozens of tests students take throughout a school year. The assessments are part of a testing regimen that education leaders are trying to rethink.

Since at least the early 1990s, education critics, parents and students have questioned whether there are too many standardized tests.

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that a state law to end tenure rights of public school teachers is unconstitutional, upholding a superior court decision last year.

In a 2-1 decision, the three-judge appeals court ruled that Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally took away contract and property rights by repealing tenure, also known as career status, in 2013.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

Following delays, divisions and more than eight hours of debate House lawmakers gave approval to a $22 billion state budget early Friday.

The plan increases state spending by more than a billion dollars, though the road to passage was hardly smooth. Deliberations on the measure were delayed by more than a day following criticism of the budget draft from some members and conservative groups.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

 

Updated Thursday, May 21, 4:45 p.m.

N.C. House lawmakers have started debating a proposed budget plan that leaders revamped in an effort to win more votes from Republicans. The proposal reduces DMV fee hikes and cuts back on the money to help bring film and TV productions to North Carolina.

21-year-old Camirra Wilson graduated from N.C. State University this month. She was one of about 500 students across the state who were part of the last N.C. Teaching Fellows class.
Reema Khrais

This month, thousands of college students are walking across graduation stages and receiving their diplomas. Among them is a small group of 500 students across several campuses called North Carolina Teaching Fellows.

They’re the last of their kind to graduate – the state began dismantling the scholarship program in 2011. While the program has a 30-year-old legacy of recruiting teachers, filling classrooms remains to be a challenge that plagues the state today.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina House representatives are introducing parts of their two year spending plan.

Education, Health and Human Services, transportation, and judicial appropriation committee meetings take place throughout Thursday as policy makers begin to digest parts of a $21 billion state spending plan.

An Instagram photo posted by a teenager was the reason dozens of people showed up to Thursday’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board meeting.

The photo, which has made several headlines, features two girls waving North Carolina regiment flags at a school field trip to Gettysburg. Many say the photo has been interpreted out of context, but for others it speaks to larger issues of racial insensitivity and inequality in the school system and community.

A screen shot, shown above, shows the post and comments before they were taken down.

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